Will Sam Curran ever get the chance to prove himself not good enough?

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Sam Curran is a weird one. You’d be unlikely to pick him purely as a batsman. You’d be unlikely to pick him purely as a bowler. You wouldn’t pick him he were a right-armer. You wouldn’t pick him if he were a few years older. But there he is – getting picked.

We sometimes wonder whether Curran would get picked now if he hadn’t already played a few Tests as an even younger man. Imagine an uncapped 23-year-old Curran: bats a bit, bowls a bit and has been doing it for enough years that you can be pretty sure you know what he is by now. Does that guy get a game? Maybe he does, but he isn’t afforded quite as generous a perception of his potential as when he was a shiny new 20-year-old.

So Sam Curran is already here and now it is actually quite hard to strike a line through his name because he’s never really going to fail, is he? Because honestly, what would he fail at? Even a king pair doesn’t feel that damning.

The luxury of being a utility cameo player is that you don’t really have many responsibilities. You bat at number eight, you bowl second change. Your runs are seen as a bonus and you aren’t called up to bowl too many overs when conditions aren’t in your favour.

It’s not that we think that Curran is a bad cricketer, because he is fine and committed and possessed of just about the most serious facial expression we’ve ever seen. It’s just that he feels so… hidden.

If a new ball bowler bowls badly, it is very obvious and people are not very understanding about that. If an opening batter goes through a bad run, that too is very obvious and it is a cold and unforgiving place for that player to be.

Sam Curran turns up when people may or may not be properly paying attention. His best efforts catch the eye and draw acclaim. His subpar performances pass largely unnoticed, strong opinions postponed with a, “Well maybe he’ll score a few/chip in with a couple of wickets later in the match.”

A batter who doesn’t score enough runs is not good enough. A bowler who doesn’t take enough wickets is not good enough. How long would a player like Sam Curran have to play before he could so clearly and comprehensively be judged?


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  1. He’s precisely the sort of “bits and pieces ” player that England turn to when their confidence is shot, in having bowling options whose primary recommendation is they can bat a bit. Hence why Moeen Ali found his way in the squad. Bowlers that end up not strengthening the batting but only suceeding in weakening the bowling.

    In his defence he only gets thrown the ball when the game is going nowhere to ‘male something happen’, which he did in the last test but I can’t help thing the Kohli wicket was more to due with the batters carelessness than a probling line outside off

    1. He’s picked as either insurance or a punt in two directions. Even if he comes off, those aren’t great reasons to pick someone.

      1. It’s classic 90’s selector thinking. Will “Keep running in” with the old ball, might get a solid 30. Mark Ealham or Ronnie Irani

      2. We suspect they started out hoping for more than that and have ended up thinking pretty much that without really realising it.

  2. He is in the team to make the pies at lunchtime. Anyone seeing him bowl will realise he has a natural talent for this kind of thing. As a result, England need to play him as much as possible before he takes a job as Chief Pie Maker at Greggs. His long lost relative, Dermot Reeve, found himself in a similar position but was a far better player. The next time I hear a commentator say ‘he makes things happen,’ I will kick my screen in. One wicket in 2 Test matches and a king pair is not making things happen. It is, however, called playing crap.

  3. Craig Overton feels like a better replacement. Much better bowler, bordering on good enough to get picked just for his bowling (with a big enough injury list, anyway). Clearly a worse batter, but happy to swing and end up with 20 something from not very many, which against India and Australia is probably as good as Curran is likely to end up with more often than not.

  4. I’m excited for Dawid Malan to average 25 instead of Sibley.

    Love me a bit of deckchair rearranging.

  5. In the absence of a functional system for producing Test cricketers, there are really two options: keep picking white-ball biceps who ‘make things happen’ (at a ratio of approximately one swept boundary from outside off for every 10 mindless dollies to mid-on); or give the people what they want and send out Darren Stevens at 8. Bumrah and Siraj’s antics would go straight over his head, figuratively and literally, and Kohli might get so angry and distracted that he accidentally sprays his fielding cologne in his eyes…

  6. Daisy describes Sam Curren as “wholehearted”.

    She wouldn’t use that term for a genuine star, such as Ben Stokes or even Chris Woakes. Wholeheartedness is a given for a star, you need descriptive adjectives for them.

    “Wholehearted” is a fall-back adjective when you have nothing meaningful to say about the player, just as Sam Curren is now a fall-back selection when you are bereft of ideas on who to pick.

    1. Ged, that’s three times now you have mis-spelled his name. Is this a passive aggressive anti-Surrey agenda?

      1. I think it’s a pro-tennis agenda, he is trying to subtly deceive us into thinking Sam is the offspring of a losing Wimbledon finalist rather than a Northants allrounder.

      2. It could be worse. Daisy (with her pro-Middlesex agenda) must have asked me at least three times whether Blake Cullen is related to the Curran brothers.

  7. Sam has probably been picked this time because of the sick list but there were others they could have picked ahead of him and didn’t.
    If the top order batted as they should Sam could come in 8 under no pressure and play freely as he does in short form cricket.
    If the bowlers and Joe Root’s tactics were better Sam would be free to offer the opposition balls to score on and get out on.
    His energy, eagerness and enthusiasm fooled Kohli into underestimating him. Placed in a better performing team he could be even more of a secret weapon.
    Like me he is from Zimbabwe and that is of course also a huge plus. Also look at Tom Curran’s recent performances.

  8. We are always told that Ben Stokes is the player England miss the most, when unavailable. However, look at the stats below for performances in England. Stokes batting average 38.90. Bowling average 31.96 bowling strike rate 56.60 bowling economy 3.38
    Woakes batting average 35.36 bowling average 22.87 bowling strike rate 44.80 bowling economy 3.05
    Clearly, going by the above stats, it is Woakes whom England are missing more than Stokes (and certainly not Sam Curran!). I guarantee, however, that you will never read this in the media as Stokes has ‘celebrity’ status. As a cricket fan I am more interested in performance. Woakes never gets the credit from the media that he deserves.

  9. There is no universe in which he is a better cricketer than Craig Overton. Aside from this one, apparently

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